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Illustrations of inspiration images, references, and materials

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Untitled (Studio) still, gloved hand touching a silicone kitchen brush

E. Winslow

Funaki

This Feels Familiar

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Illustrations of inspiration images, references, and materials

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Drinking fountain made to look like a tree stump

Water fountain disguised as a tree stump, Onishi, Gunma prefecture, Japan, summer 2018

You can disguise a water fountain in a park as a tree stump but if the guise is too effective, no one will ever be able to find the water fountain. Which makes you wonder why you should bother at all. The reason you will probably be given is that it is better for things to blend into their environment, even a little bit. “Cohesiveness” and sameness are valued.

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solar-powered LED light made to look like a rock

 

 

 

 

 

Untitled (Cupholder), 2019, pine, MDF, OSB, rubber, vinyl, fabric, foam, aqua resin, plastic, casters

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Untitled (Cupholder)

It feels familiar but it is also hard to pin down. It references known objects—shopping carts, step ladders—but is never really that thing. It seems to follow a system of logic but that logic isn’t immediately clear to you. There is “logic” but it is not logical. Perhaps it wasn’t made by a human. Or for a human. It seems useful but then it isn’t. As if its maker only half understood what would make an object helpful.

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Person dressed as nukamisodaki (headless fish picked in fermented rice-bran)

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Untitled (Studio) still, small circular mirror on blue wall

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Illustrations of inspiration images, references, and materials

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Screenshot from Tumblr: "you-only-liberate-once: my host mom in Japan referred to her Roomba as 'Roomba-san' and when it would get stuck she would just look over it and softly say 'ganbatte, Roomba-san... ganbatte' as it made distressed beeping noises at her; whoops roots: 'ganbatte: Cheer up, Be courageous, Do your best'"

From Kibibarel.tumblr.com

It is no wonder then that this is the culture that produces so many cute, friendly robots. The line between living and non-living is so blurred that it is not disturbing to see robots in the mall hocking cell phones or insurance policies or helping the elderly to feel less lonely. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It feels familiar—it isn’t entirely alien. It is never a sealed box that just materialized out of nowhere one day. It was clearly made and its construction is both visible and understandable. Sometimes it seems like the maker just made do with the materials at hand. There are no mysteries and no expertise is required. It is almost boring in its straight-forwardness.


 

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Bespoke shopping cart

Tactile pavement and bollards, Tokyo, summer 2018

What happens when we encounter an object we simply don’t understand? A curvy path of textured tactile pavement—to help guide pedestrians with visual impairment—on an otherwise straight sidewalk is reinforced by green plastic bollards with stripes of reflective tape. There is no obstacle the path is circumventing, just the artificial one created by the erection of the bollards. There are no significant structures immedi- ately before or after the meandering path. Approaching this path, we understand what we are meant to do—we can read the cues—but we don’t understand why.

Just like Greener Grass, this small instance of pedestrian in- frastructure appears to follow a system of logic but one that we just aren’t privy to. We can take a stab at it—that the path is to avoid an invisible sinkhole or an undetonated bomb or perhaps a kind of urban choreography—but we will probably be wrong. We will probably project our own wishes and invest far more importance in the thing than its creators did. We will probably puzzle over this object for years and hang its picture on the wall and show it in every presentation and write essays about it. We will relish the strangeness and the mystery and the wrongness. We have felt a version of this wrongness before and it is a ticklish pleasure. It is more fun.

 

 

 

 

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A curvy path of tactile pavement surrounded by green bollards

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Untitled (Studio) still, glass finial attached to wall next to an ear

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Illustrations of inspiration images, references, and materials

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Untitled (Shelf)

Untitled (Shelf), 2019, pine, plywood, melamine, OSB, miscellaneous wood scraps, foam, vinyl, rubber, stones, epoxy putty, brass wire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It feels familiar. Almost like a friend. It moves and squeaks sometimes. Not a person or an animal but something related. Something which not only interacts with but shares attributes with a person.

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Two figures (male and female)  from the Pioneer Plaque; man is waving

From the Pioneer Plaque, sent into space aboard the Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft, 1972 and 1973

"Do you think... that they will think... his arm is permanently attached in this position?"

Laurie Anderson, “Say Hello”

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Untitled (Cart)

It feels familiar.  Just when you think you’ve got it cornered it throws out something else and rolls away. 


 

Utility shed disguised as a tree stump, Onishi, Gunma prefecture, Japan, summer 2018

Or it might be entirely unreadable. You might detect elements of a set of stairs or a walker but the object doesn’t function that way, so maybe you’re mistaken. You can’t even break it down into its constituent parts, saying it’s thirty percent stepstool, forty-two percent shelf, sixteen percent cupholder, and twelve percent miscellaneous wood scraps. There is no DNA test for this object. It can’t really be picked apart. “It is that which cannot be reduced” (Edouard Glissant, Poetics of Relation).

It offers up no answers but like shojo, it can twist itself into whatever form is needed. It can be a sculpture one minute and furniture the next, something to be looked at, then something to be used. Something helpful, something funny, something decorative, something useless. It can be all of these identities and none of them is a lie. Its power lies in its slipperiness and if it risks apprehension it glides into a new position and reframes itself yet again.

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Utility shed made to look like a large tree stump

RISD Grad Show 2020

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